The 2021/2022 Mascot of Smiles!

The 2021/2022 Mascot of Smiles!

And the “Pets-tember” Award Goes to…Sophia Loren!

Congratulations to the beautiful and incomparable Sophia Loren! No, the actress isn’t winning another Oscar or Grammy; Sophia Loren (the dog) received the most votes in this year’s Pets-tember campaign to become the official new Mascot of Smiles.

Her namesake is the incredibly beautiful actress who rose from poverty-stricken postwar Naples to become one of the most famous actresses in Italy and then the world. Sophia Loren (the dog) also rose from difficult beginnings as a rescue at the Oconee Regional Human Society shelter before she was adopted by Alliance for Smiles board member, volunteer, and Mission Director Tina Fischlin. Tina knew from the instant that they met that she would be part of Sophia’s forever home.

When adopted, the vet told Tina that Sophia was a terrier mix, who would weigh between 12-15 pounds, but later her DNA test results showed that she’s actually 36% Weimaraner and the rest is a mix of Lab, Collie and Shih Tzu. When people ask what breed she is Tina tells them she’s a “Weimaraner-ShihTzu-Doodle.” She’s also currently weighing in closer to 34 pounds, so the vet was off the mark on a few key points.

Sophia has been with Tina through a lot, including a particularly difficult time when Tina’s previous husband was diagnosed with cancer and later passed away. “She was just two years old when Hal was diagnosed with cancer. We always believed she knew he had cancer before we knew. She never left his side. We have been through a lot together.”

Sophia is nearing the age of twelve and she is still living up to her namesake in beauty, sassiness, and bringing more smiles to the world. In this year’s Pets-tember campaign, she and all the other participants raised funds that will help provide free surgeries for children with cleft lips and palates all around the world. So while they brought smiles to all our faces as we voted, the smiles they are creating won’t stop there. “She is so happy to know that she is putting smiles on the faces of people everywhere,” Tina said about Sophia becoming the new Mascot of Smiles.

In this way, Sophia is continuing an incredible legacy that her human, Tina has been built over her many years of volunteering on surgical missions with Alliance for Smiles, helping to raise awareness and funds everywhere she goes, and giving children with cleft conditions hope and brighter futures through her tireless efforts.

We are so excited and grateful to have the support of Tina, her husband Mike Fischlin, and Sophia Loren, our new ambassador of smiles to the world! As Tina says, “Everyone who knows Sophia loves Sophia.” The votes she received are proof of that!

Receiving the next highest number of votes was Mocha the cat, who at the age of eighteen is still getting up to do yoga with her human, Mary Jensen – a dental hygienist and tireless supporter of AfS, who has served on many AfS missions. The second runner up was Madame Roxie (also a cat) who is taking good care of AfS Co-Founder Anita Stangl, after the recent passing of Smudge, the cat who inspired the Pets-tember campaign by joining every Zoom meeting he could and bringing smiles to everyone’s faces throughout the pandemic.


Thank you to everyone who entered a pet, took the time to vote, and supported AfS through this sweet and fun campaign. Science has shown us that our pets make us happier and healthier as humans, and you’ve all gone beyond that, showing once again that they can do so much more, including helping children across the globe to get the crucial medical care they need and lead brighter lives full of smiles.